With a pair of promoter test sessions and two more practice sessions on Friday, the Blue Marble Radical Cup North America participants returned to the track on Saturday for qualifying and the first lap-to-lap of the championship final. With qualifying to set the grid for the first race, the drivers would take to the track mid-morning for the crucial time trial session as they all looked to get ahead of their rivals.
Looking to finish the season strong, Esses Racing’s Judd Miller topped the Platinum Class results table in qualifying ahead of championship leaders Steve Jenks and Scott Wagner. Greg Gorski took the pole position in the Pro 1500 class ahead of current 1500 point leader Palmer Miller with Will Lynn in third. Austin Riley started his official race on the right foot by taking the pole position and would take his championship lead into the first turn from the inside of the front row in the Pro 1340 class. Reid Stewart took second ahead of championship contender Mike Anzaldi in third.
1. Judd Miller (Esses Racing/Radical Texas) – 1m33.111s
2. Steve Jenks (Group-A Racing/Audien Hearing)
3. Scott Wagner (Scott Wagner Racing/Scott Wagner Integrated Medicine)
4. Jim Booth (Wisko Racing/McDonald’s)
5. Jason Greenwood (Ryno Racing/AMI Information Systems)
1. Greg Gorski (One Motorsports/Smokebuddy) – 1m34.085s
2. Palmer Miller (Esses Racing/Radical Texas)
3. Will Lynn (One Motorsports/Rise)
4. Aurora Strauss (Group-A Racing/Richard Mille/Arch Capital)
5. Joe Nuxall (Radical Northwest/Cameron Racing)
1. Austin Riley (Racing With Autism/SparkPower/Lincoln Electric) – 1m36.297s
2. Reid Stewart (Group-A Racing/Fasano Textiles)
3. Mike Anzaldi *Ryno Racing/Emmett’s Energy)
4. Brendan Wright (Radical Northwest/Cameron Racing)
Steve Jenks put the stamp of approval on his pursuit of the Platinum class championship with a one-race win by nearly three seconds over pole position winner Judd Miller. It was Jim Booth who joined Jenks and Miller on the podium after the twenty-two-lap race, seeing off Scott Wagner, who had qualified on the second row in the Platinum class but dropped to fourth on the scoresheets. Charles Finelli (Fat Boy Racing) showed speed early on but was forced to retire on lap thirteen in his Radical Cup debut, but will return on Sunday for two more chances to challenge for the podium. With the first result of the race, Jenks extended his points lead and is a lock for the series crown.
Aurora Strauss wasn’t the fastest rider in the first race of the Pro 1500 class, but she took advantage of the opportunity to take her first win of the season for both herself and Group-A Racing, becoming the first female driver ever to win in Radical competition Cup around the world. Starting from fourth on the grid, Strauss methodically worked her way to second before pole position winner Greg Gorski was forced to retire on lap seventeen with a mechanical issue, giving Aurora the opportunity to take a dominant victory. Esses Racing driver Palmer Miller strengthened his championship position by finishing second on the circuit, but ahead of the riders he needed to beat to take the title. Moving up three positions in the race, Ron Fletcher (Ryno Racing/BeachHouse858.com) improved on his sixth starting position and took the third and final step on the podium, ahead of Will Lynn, who narrowly beat Joe Nuxol to the checkered flag for a measly 0.002 s. After the first race, Palmer Miller extended his points lead with two races remaining tomorrow.
“I’m very happy to win and make history as the first woman to win a Radical Cup event worldwide,” explained Strauss after the race. “I couldn’t have done it without everyone around me, my sponsors and my team in Group A. It’s not the way we want to win, but tomorrow we have two chances to win outright and I know we have enough speed to do it.’
It was a dramatic Pro 1340 race as championship leaders Austin Riley and Mike Anzaldi crashed out shortly after the green flag flew. Despite their friendship and off-track sim battles, the pair were red-hot after first-lap contact caused significant damage to their respective cars. Riley ended up taking third and extending his points lead, while Anzaldi wondered if his car could be repaired for races two and three tomorrow. Reid Stewart and Brandon Wright were the benefactors of Riley and Anzaldi’s contact, as they finished first and second in the class unopposed. It was Reid Stewart’s first North American Blue Marble Radical Cup win, something he had been chasing for quite some time. After the race and talking to Austin Riley and Mike Anzaldi, both drivers have spare cars for tomorrow’s race if needed.
After the first day of racing was over, all three classes were dominated by Group-A racing.
With two additional lap-to-lap races tomorrow, the championship picture is a little clearer. The Blue Marble Radical Cup will return to the track on Sunday for the second and third races of the weekend with the first green flag at 10:00am PT and the final race of the season starting at 1:35pm PT.
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